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So... Meryl is Really Campaigning This Time, Eh?

The Diva Wears Prada Sweaters and Jeans for her TV profileDid any of you catch Meryl on "60 Minutes" on Sunday? She got one quarter of those minutes. Someone else noted this on Twitter, not I, but it's wonderful to imagine her prep work for these interviews. 'Oh, 60 Minutes is here? I'll just run a comb through my hair.' 

My favorite bits from the 15 minutes

• On the realness of her work becoming the characters: "I'm not insane. I do know that I'm acting!"
• The moment where she "acts" her own voice to demonstrate that she and Thatcher both have "light" voices and you need to take them deeper for dramatic resonance or to be taken seriously. She was also the morning announcer at her high school so THAT VOICE was always drawing attention to itself.

• The actreses she loved when growing up, were not contemporaries but classic movie queens: Carole Lombard, Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, and Barbara Stanwyck. 

I like girls with attitude, you know? Moxie. There's an old word."

She also talks about the strength of women repeatedly and is obviously proud of her track record at working with female directors (we have some names for your wishlist Streep!).

• Her flirty "not to me" when asked if the legendary Joe Papp was a taskmaster on stage.
• I didn't know this but during that first flush of stardom one summer post Deer Hunter, she was working on Kramer vs. Kramer and Woody Allen's Manhattan during the day and then playing "Taming of the Shrew" at night on stage! Crazy.

• That they compare Streep to Royalty. So this here then is one of America's royal families. The Gummers.

Mamie (28), Henry (32), Grace (25), Luisa (20) looking up at mom & dad: Meryl and Don


My favorite quote from the profile, talking about her range.

It always really bothers me when people imagine that characters who don't look like you or don't have the same accent as you are far from you. A great actress Sybil Thorndike said 'I think we all have the germ of every other person inside of us.' And I believe we do."

If that name sounds familiar, it's because you've just heard it. Judi Dench plays Thorndike in My Week With Marilyn.

• They also talk about her Streep's work on a national museum for women's history and how Hollywood has fought to remove adults from moviegoing because they don't buy toys.
• "All that education down the drain" making fun of herself when she mistakes a "la giaconda" reference -- her Mona Lisa mystery --  for a comparison to an "anaconda".

Okay so my favorite bits were essentially all of them. She's a delight even when she's sermonizing. How does she do it?

BUT... I can't say I am enjoying the new idolization of Margaret Thatcher. We should not be holding her up as some kind of role model.  Answering a question about whether or she admires Thatcher, Streep shrugs off the disconcerting politics, and focuses on female strength.

I am in awe of what she did. The policies you can argue with but to sit in the hotseat... I can't even imagine having that steadfastness. 

The problem with holding up Thatcher as such a role model is it excuses her terrible policies and also ignores the fact that sometimes steadfastness is not an admirable quality when the things you're stubborn about cause huge problems for the world. Think of George Bush's obstinacy. Steadfastness 'my way or the highway' is not always what we need from politicians... especially if their ideas are so damaging for anyone who isn't wealthy and powerful and conservative in character. 

Here's the video if you haven't seen it (warning: there are commercials)...

Magazine puff pieces? 60 Minutes?

I don't remember this much attention for Julie & Julia or Doubt but my mind could be playing tricks on me and memory can be short in the heat of each new Oscar season. Maybe Meryl knows that The Iron Lady is a tougher sell film and is just doing her star duty to promote it?

Or maybe she finally wants that third Oscar. She's seemingly never wanted it as badly as her fans want it for her... though that degree of want would be frightening in a star. It would be particularly unbecoming for Streep as part of her great charm is that everywoman nonchalance about her fame and reputation. But this ease at Being Meryl could well be half the Oscar problem. Not being in great films would be the other. This is hardly an original thought -- that Meryl's films aren't what they used to be -- but it's rather shockingly underlined by the Oscar numbers. Consider this: Meryl has been nominated 16 times. If you cleave her nominations down the middle chronologically and look at both halves it goes like this...

First ½ of Streep's Noms: Three Best Picture winners and those eight films combined won 47 nominations and 18 Oscars. Only one of Streep's nominations (A Cry in the Dark) was the film's sole get.
Second ½ of Streep's Noms: The eight films combined earned 18 nominations and 1 Oscar. There's not a sole Best Picture nominee among them (though she did star in one, The Hours, but was not nominated for it.) Three of her eight nominations this time (Bridges, One True Thing, Julie & Julia) were the sole Oscar attention for the film.

Psssst. If you'd like to participate in the Reader Ranking Streep project, today's your last day.

It's too soon to say whether she'll be the only nominee for The Iron Lady -- the makeup and costuming categories might prevent that though both categories are foolish to bet on as they're known for surprises -- but it's entirely possible. Will she ever turn it around and star in a film that hits with audiences, critics and Oscar voters across the board again? Will there ever be another The Hours or Kramer vs. Kramer or even a Silkwood (which was obviously a just-miss in terms of a Best Picture nod and Meryl does enjoy the biopics)?

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Reader Comments (35)

This is such a strange year for me, all the actresses I strongly root for in the past are giving performances that I feel totally indifferent to!

Love Meryl but really hope her third win is not gonna be for "The Iron Lady". I still have high hopes for "August: Osage County" even though I don't think she is the best choice for the part.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterButtercup

NATHANIEL... PLEAAASE..regardless of the quality of the movie, or even hateful thatcher, tell us ... Meryl is wonderful in the movie or not? Worthy or not that has received extraordinary reviews, even those who hate the movie? Is there any chance of it being the least among your finalists (doubt it, but ...)

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdaniel

This interview is very sweet and lovable. Of course she is campaigning for the film so it does well, but who could blame her for wanting to be the winner? On a human level, I think she wants to win because she is 62 and she is tired of doing good work but not winning. And I would love to see David Fincher, Paul Thomas Anderson, Spielberg, Scorcese, et al build a film for her.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDuncan

Not that I haven't noticed it before, but it's crazy how much Meryl's daughters look like their mother and her son like his father.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJan

I could say so much about Meryl, because I am a tremendous fan - Love or hate the film, she is just amazing as she is in everything she does - I am sick and tired of people overlooking her or making light of her astonishing talent and work ethic, give this women her due, she must get a third and then a fourth Oscar etc.. She is without a doubt the standard that any serious actor should measure themselves. I stand in awe of her and think she is awesome as a human being as well.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStuart Goodall

DANIEL - - i do plan to review but i am so backed up with things i gotta deliver -- (if you don't publish interviews, for example, you stop getting them ;) -- you'll just have to be patient. the movie doesn't open for two weeks. But i am working as fast as I can.

in short: she's terrific in it. but no, i haven't figured out who i am nominating for best actress this year. SO MANY PEOPLE TO CONSIDER. great great year.

DUNCAN -- it'd be such a dream for her to take a role like the one ellen burstyn got in requiem or something: something dramatic and meaty where she alone was not the only superlative of the film.

December 20, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

“Well I don’t like the campaigning, it feels weird and unseemly,” she laughed. “But I like it – I mean I like the Oscar!”, Meryl Streep

Is she really campaigning this time? In a sense, she is.
If not for herself, at least for the movie. To defend her Margaret Thatcher and the choice to potrait a character that is so controversial...
And I think she is doing it pretty well. =) I mean, when I'll go and see The Iron Lady I'm sure I won't feel I'll be watching the story of a terrible politician, but the story of a woman with her strenght and failures... and this will be thanks to Meryl, I must say her arguments are quite persuasive.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTerris

Tks Dear Nathe...
you say she is terrific in the movie was just what I needed to hear .... reassures me in the sense that, even in a great year for actresses, Meryl wins for this work, even though she is who she is, would not be considered a joke ...
Love from Brazil (and me)

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdaniel

Oh, and since I saw Requiem always thought Meryl would be perfect in the role, in a way unique and proper ... Although Ellen has done something unforgettable ... the scene of her gritting her teeth for abstinence, and his son realizing the state of the mother, to me, is an acting class ...

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdaniel

I do not think she is campaigning...I think this all has to do with the Women's History Museum on her part. I mean it is not like any of her other recent movies could not have also benefitted from the exposure.Or America is realizing, with the Kennedy Center Hours at the end ot the month, that she is a national treasure and there is only one STREEP. Or Weinstein has threatend her she'll never work again unless she gets off her butt and campaigns?

Think what you will about the film....most of the Best Actress frontrunners are all in "weak" movies.....Viola Davis may be feeling the love in Hollywood right now....but in this race, it seems the country believes it is Streep vs. Williams......

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

I hate how they're too generalist to know how to cover entertainment folk, and just ask questions which allow Streep, etc. to say whatever they want. Not that Streep isn't charming as usual.

Let ole Marsha interview her, and the first question will be about why she doesn't seek out auteurs at this stage of her career, with only so much to prove by "Mamma Mia!"s and "Something's Gotta Give"s. And if she says the likes of Almodóvar and Fincher don't call her, then let's ask her why she doesn't call them. They'd answer. And she'd be a rockin' vampire, so even if they want to do that...

Any shot they let you interview her, Nathaniel? And Ole Marsha sits in?

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Mason

While they're at it, maybe she could star in a movie with Marsha Mason-there's a comeback I'd like to see.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Marsha Mason ought to know Streep wasn't in 'Something's Gotta Give'.

What I adore about Streep (besides her enormous talent) is she is so down-to-earth, absolutely no pretense. I do believe she's campaigning but I think Harvey is behind.

Battle is between Streep and Williams right now. I give edge to Streep mostly because she's been at it so, so long. It's time.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbrandz

First I wanna say Meryl looks goorgeous in Vogue and on the 60 min interview (well, she is a beautiful woman obviously). And her family is lovely.

Now... I don't mind her doing some campaigning, I mean it's about time she did, she deserves to win and I think she knows that this time sha has a real chance so why not?

And I agree with Stuart, I'm tired of people being like; "Oh it's Meryl, she has enough awards" or "She'll get it next year" etc. I mean people seem to think she has like 5 Oscars when in reality she only has 2 and one of them is for supporting, so why, if her performance is amazing, why not reward her, if she deserves it, why not? (besides, she gives pretty great acceptance speeches so no worries about it been a boring choice)

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarlene T.

OMG, "It's Complicated" of course! Although my confusion kind of proves the point, right?

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Mason

Your paragraph regarding Thatcher is impeccable. I can't think of a worst social and economic enviroment to glorify that woman. Why now? I don't get it.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I'm not exactly sure what your confusion proves, Marsha Mason. Forgetfulness?

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbrandz

Buttercup and Stuart. Since the actress she beat to number of nominations happens to be Katharine Hepburn, I am increasingly convinced that Meryl's immediate Oscar arch will resemble Hepburn's. Kate got hers for her first nomination in 1932-1933. Then it took her eight nominations and 34 years! until she won her second Oscar in 1967, followed by another in 1968 and finally crowned with her fourth win in 1981. That's why I have a hunch Streep will win for both "Iron Lady" and "August." And I imagine that, by the end of her career, she could easily have more than 20 nominations, if not 25!

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

Yes Nathaniel, I hope she goes back to work with Wes Anderson and Spike Jonze, and I thought (?) Paul Thomas Anderson said that he wants to write a film and work with her. She seems to be comfortable now with a focus on good parts for women and female power, and I don't think that this is such a bad thing. There is no reason why she can't do a variety of work, as much as she wants, for several more years.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDuncan

Streep's son is fucking gorgeous. Damn her for giving birth to someone so beautiful.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter//3rtful

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December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWholesale Suppliers China

The 60 Minutes interview shows how watchable Streep is after all these years. The Newsweek article by Amanda Foreman, a major historian and daughter of blacklisted Carl Foreman, is a very interesting attempt to show the relevance of Thatcher in connection with the new film and Streep's "preternatural" portrayal of her life.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaul D

Also interesting article in USA today...posted about 4 hours ago....where streep confirms what most people on this site do not want to accept....not everyone has film roles for a 62 year old woman!!!!! GEESh people! Let the her do what she chooses....career will survive with or without the 3rd Oscar......

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Streep also states in the USA Today article that The Iron Lady is not a political movie (as some would like to spin it). It's a film about a woman who gains power through sacrifice and the consequences she pays.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbrandz

Also Nathaniel....in your comparison of the first 8 oscar noms compared to her last 8 oscar noms....you forgot to mention that when her 9th oscar nomination came she had hit her 40s...maybe that is the reason......Look what Hollywood has done to her contemporaries....to have come out of that with 8 more nominations is amazing...auteur project or not....

Besides when has any auteur project recently brought or guaranteed the Best Actress Oscar?

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Jamie ...

This is not the first time I went to write a note on Streep and I read your words and think ..

"Did I already write my comment" We are so united to our thoughts about Streep that it is totally scary!!!!

December 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrick

I don´t think this is just for an oscar campain, she is very compromise with the woman´s museum, in fact she is promoting the museum in everywhere, some vogue pics are for that and she mention it in a lot of her interviews, she give two millions for the cause, her salary for the iron lady was donate for the cause, even in this interview to 60 minutes she talk about the proyect, and come on Harvey can do many things but nobody can tell Anna Wintour who´s gona be in the cover of HER magazine ¿right?, i think Meryl knows how to win a cover on the bible of fashion and she deserve it, she finally has all the atention that she deserve and she´s go ahead for women.

December 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersonia

i was also about to say what jamie said: the two halfs of nominations are divided in meryl under and over 40 precisely.
that's something right there (i'm not sure what).

maybe almodóvar is a good sugestion, but fincher? i don't see how he and meryl match. and she would hate working with him (the multiple takes thing).

December 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

Brandz -- If The Iron Lady "is not a political movie (as some would like to spin it). It's a film about a woman who gains power through sacrifice and the consequences she pays", then we're talking about a hagiography which is even worse.

December 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

freelance writer

December 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJeannieMOSS34

The British Tories are so outraged by the film they are calling for a special session of Parliament to debate the 'intrusive' and 'unfair' portrayal in this film. The liberals are grousing about the resurrection of Thatcher. Something must be right about the film if both sides are complaining.

I am as liberal politically as can be and I despised Thatcher's policies. Say what you want about the film, but let's just appreciate the performance by Streep. She's remarkable.

December 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbrandz

Gotta love actors, really. Every actor playing a true villain (i.e. a murderer) will say he/she won't judge the character so that they can play it, but when it comes to biopics there's this positive judgement from the very premise of the project that apparently won't stop them from leaning on one side.

December 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

To be fair, Adaptation should have been nominated for Best Picture, and Doubt likely just missed a Best Picture nomination. Both probably would have been nominated under today's rules. But yes, Streep's films aren't as high-quality as they once were, though this says more about the availability of roles for women of her age than it does about her ability to pick projects.

December 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

"But yes, Streep's films aren't as high-quality as they once were, though this says more about the availability of roles for women of her age than it does about her ability to pick projects."

IDK, I feel like if anyone could fight for better roles for women of her age, it's Meryl herself, and she doesn't fight, she just rests on mediocre films with good roles for her.

December 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip


You totally have it right.....

December 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrick
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